Observing Traditions, Rituals and Habits During the Holidays

Traditions, rituals and habits are a staple of American culture.  And, with the U.S holiday, Thanksgiving this week, this is the perfect time to think about the traditions in your own family circle or start some new ones.  I often counsel blended families to start new traditions when they are at a crossroads as to which set of in-laws they share Thanksgiving dinner with.

One family decided to rid themselves of the holiday madness by volunteering to feed the homeless at their local church on Thanksgiving Day.

Another family spends the day with their nuclear family and then hosts a large gathering for extended family the day after Thanksgiving.

Sometimes traditions evolve slowly over time such as the annual Kwanzaa celebration I’ve been hosting for over 20 years.

Traditions don’t have to be extravagant, expensive or time consuming. It could be as simple as committing to have dinner together as a family on Wednesdays.  Juggling family schedules can be a challenge but setting aside at least one day to share a meal together promotes unity and an opportunity to connect and share.

If you haven’t started a tradition, ritual or habit yet, now is a good time to start or maybe you’re looking for other ideas to add to your tradition toolbox.  Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Birthdays – The tradition of celebrating birthdays is evident in many cultures and it’s a time to make someone feel special and the center of attention.  You might want to use an ornately decorated plate for the celebrant.  Or as is the case in my family, each birthday is celebrated with a special cake of the birthday person’s choice.  Mine is a yummy strawberry, peach, creme filled concoction.  Hey, it’s only once a year!
  • Thanksgiving – Turkey takes center stage in our family.  You may be a vegetarian or prefer some other main course. but the important thing is that you spend quality time with those you care about and less emphasis on the food.
  • Christmas – If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you may have another holiday where you observe traditions or rituals.  If you have a large family, you may want to forego the traditional gift giving and instead make a charitable contribution to a worthy cause. Or you may decide to do your major celebration on Christmas Eve or attend a religious service.
  • Kwanzaa -Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday or an alternative to Christmas although it is observed from December 26-January 1.  Kwanzaa is an African-American celebration of cultural principles by which to live daily.

What traditions, rituals and habits do you observe in your family circle?







Gladys Anderson - Life Coach, Therapist, Author



Certified Life Coach, Family therapist and Group Coaching Specialist, Gladys M. Anderson, helps nurses, teachers, social workers, therapists and other care-giving women to set limits so they have more time, more joy and more energy for self-care.

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